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Most days at home are uneventful. But when the stove catches fire or pipes burst under the house, do you know what to do? Many homeowners are unprepared for common emergency scenarios, but you can arm yourself with knowledge to handle anything that comes your way at home. Here are 5 home emergencies you should be prepared to handle.
Houses are a complex labyrinth of plumbing, electrical wires, HVAC systems and, in some cases, gas lines. This creates numerous avenues by which things could go wrong. Home emergencies run the gamut from annoying to dangerous, and you need to know how to handle different scenarios. Here are some common household situations to prepare for.
This is the last thing you want to have happen on a cold winter day, but that’s the prime time for pipes to rupture. It’s especially common in homes that have poorly insulated plumbing made of rigid, fragile material, and tends to occur when people forget to leave the faucets dripping overnight.
If you see water gushing out from under your house, don’t panic. The first thing you should do is call the city and have them shut off your water main.
If it’s legal to do so, you can shut it off yourself using a water key, a specialized tool that reaches down into a manhole and allows you to turn the water main switch. This will shut off all the water going to your house, and — if you live in an urban area — potentially your neighbors’ homes, too! That’s why it’s often illegal to do it yourself, and best to call the city.
Once a maintenance worker shuts off your water, you’ll need to call a plumber to repair the burst pipes. Or, if you want to tackle the project yourself, it’s pretty easy once you locate the leak. You can head to the nearest hardware store and pick up plumbing supplies for a fraction of the cost of hiring a plumber.
There are three main types of fires that start in the kitchen: grease fires, appliance fires and fires caused by items being too close to a heat source.
If grease catches fire on the stove, never pour water on it, because that will only make it worse. Instead, you need to use a fire extinguisher, which you should keep on hand in the kitchen. If the flames are small enough, you can also smother the fire by putting a lid on the pan. This deprives it of oxygen.
The second type of fire is when an appliance shorts out or something inside it overheats, causing it to burst into flames. If food inside the microwave or oven catches fire, leave the door shut and unplug the appliance if it’s safe to do so. Use the fire extinguisher to put out any lingering flames.
If something catches on fire due to touching a heat source, such as a dish towel left on the stove, put it out with water or an extinguisher. If the object is small enough, you can use tongs to grab it and put it in the sink.
Thankfully, this situation isn’t dangerous, but it does need to be dealt with promptly. Having water drip or pour from the ceiling damages the paint, drywall, wooden structures and even electrical wires in the walls. It also creates the perfect conditions for mold to flourish.
The first thing to do is contain the leak. Put a bucket or pan under the leak to catch the water. Next, move all your furniture and other items away from the area so they don’t get damaged. Take photos for insurance purposes and call a professional to address the problem right away.
If the power goes out while you’re enjoying Sunday night football, it’s little more than an annoyance. But if you lose heat or air conditioning during a drought or blizzard, the situation quickly turns serious. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Following these tips should help you get by until the power comes back on.
This usually doesn’t happen overnight, but it can often feel like it. Heavy rains sometimes drive animals indoors en masse. Other times, conditions are ripe for their populations to boom, and before you know it, you have pests.
Tackling an infestation requires a multifaceted approach. You’ll need to seal the cracks around doors and windows. You should clean your kitchen so crumbs and other tasty morsels aren’t out on the counter, and fix any faucet leaks that might attract bugs looking for a drink. If you have mice, you’ll need to set traps and use strongly scented repellents to drive them away.
You may also have to use a bug bomb, spray insecticides or hire an exterminator if the problem is bad enough. Don’t worry — the factors that cause infestations are often beyond your control.
Life can throw a few curveballs, but the more you learn about potential emergencies, the better equipped you’ll be to handle them. Invest in safety equipment like fire extinguishers, know the phone numbers for your city maintenance crew and keep plenty of supplies on hand for unexpected situations. Most of all, remember to stay calm and collected. You’ve got this.